New York lawmakers are, once again, pushing some of the state’s more conservative legislative forces to get with the times and finally allow the existence of a taxed and regulated cannabis market.
Earlier this month, Senator Liz Krueger and Representative Crystal Peoples-Stokes reintroduced a proposal called the “Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act.” This is the third time the bill has been filed with the General Assembly. So far, it has not received a hearing.
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At the core of this legislation, adults 18 and older would have the right to possess up to two ounces of marijuana without being harassed by law enforcement. It would establish a fully legal marketplace, similar to what is happening in Colorado and Washington, but only for those adults 21 and older. The bill also comes with a home cultivation provision. It too would be limited to adult residents legally permitted to frequent the recreational market.
Despite the increased level of support for this reform all over the United States, the concept of legal weed has failed to garner any attention from New York’s legislative chambers. However, Krueger and Peoples-Stokes say they plan to continue force-feeding the issue to the opposition in an attempt to establish a fully legal framework by 2020.
“Marijuana prohibition is a failed and outdated policy that has done tremendous damage to too many of our communities,” Krueger said in a statement. “Allowing adult personal use, with appropriate regulation and taxation, will end the heavily racialized enforcement that disproportionately impacts African American and Latino New Yorkers, locking them out of jobs, housing, and education, and feeding the prison pipeline.”
But even if the two lawmakers can get the General Assembly to finally go along with their plan to end pot prohibition in the Empire State, it is going to take some time before Governor Andrew Cuomo is comfortable enough with the situation to support the cause in ink.
In April, Cuomo told reporters that he wasn’t ready to side full legalization. He is concerned that marijuana is a gateway drug that will further contribute to the state’s drug problem.
“There’s two sides to the argument, but I, as of this date, I am unconvinced on recreational marijuana,” Cuomo said. “If you choose to use marijuana recreationally, you know the law.”
But Senator Krueger believes Cuomo will soon see the benefits of passing a recreational marijuana law – just like he did with respect to the issue of cannabis medicine.
“When he came in as governor, he was explicitly opposed to medical marijuana,” she said. “We now have a medical marijuana law he signed.”
The latest statistics from a new campaign called Start SMART NY shows the state could easily see $3 billion per year in marijuana sales once it is legal. New York City alone could generate an annual haul of over $400 million.